I need your comic book suggestions!
July 1, 2008 11:03 AM   Subscribe

I need your comic book suggestions!

I'm beginning to really dig comic books. See, when I was a kid, I mainly ran around in the baseball-card-collecting/Little-League circle, whereas my brother-in-law ran in the comic circles. (I'm the T.S. Quint to his Brody. Though not nearly as handsome. Either of us.)

The BIL is slowly turning me, and I'm really digging some of the stuff he (and others) have turned me on to: the Essential X-Men, Spiderman and Iron Man trade paperbacks, and some Transmetropolitan. I've also been reading and enjoying the Marvel Civil Wars event, though I've been told this isn't something that's very "cool"?

Regardless, I'm looking for more suggestions. I dig the superhero stuff, and I plan on continuing through the Essentials series, though I really wish you could find them in color. I'd like to look into some Batman, but more Chris Nolan vs. Tim Burton. In fact, I'd probably say that I prefer the gritty vs. the cartoonish. I'm also open to non-superhero stuff, a la Transmet.

The key to all your suggestions, however, is that I'd prefer to read stuff in a collected/trade paperback manner vs. subscribing to comics - I'm still a neophyte and want to get absorbed by a few mythologies before taking that plunge, so any great collected works you can suggest would be stellar.

I know variations of this question have been asked before, but they weren't quite what I was looking for...
posted by po822000 to Media & Arts (44 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.

Easily the best comic I've ever read.

I would also recommend Batman: Year One, also by Frank Miller.

The end.
posted by kbanas at 11:10 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


First in with Watchmen suggestion. Bo-ya!
posted by wfrgms at 11:10 AM on July 1, 2008


continuing with the batman suggestions, batman: year one hundred was pretty good.
posted by phil at 11:16 AM on July 1, 2008


I second Watchmen and The Dark Night Returns. Also, this isn't superhero at all, but I highly recommend Y The Last Man. The 60 issue (I think it was 60) series is over, but its a brilliant story line. Also, I always had a think for Channel Zero by Brian Wood.
posted by tundro at 11:16 AM on July 1, 2008


The Ultimates (Marvel)
Powers
posted by junkbox at 11:17 AM on July 1, 2008


if you enjoy "y the last man" you might like transmetropolitan.
posted by phil at 11:20 AM on July 1, 2008


Sandman by Neil Gaiman is amazing, and is coming out in fantastic new editions.

If you like Transmet, Warren Ellis has a new series out now called Doktor Sleepless. Similar to Transmet although even less hopeful for the future of humanity, if you can believe it.

Seconding Y: The Last Man and Watchmen
posted by hobgadling at 11:22 AM on July 1, 2008


In no particular order:

Lucifer
Grendel
Stray Bullets
Kabuki
Anything Neil Gaiman
Anything Jon J. Muth, Dave McKean, or Alex Ross have ever illustrated.

I'm sure others will fill out the obvious gaps.
posted by elendil71 at 11:24 AM on July 1, 2008


If you like the superhero stuff, I recommend Planet Hulk and the followup, World War Hulk. I wasn't a big Hulk fan, but these are both pretty epic and fun reads.
posted by graventy at 11:25 AM on July 1, 2008


+1 Watchmen, +1 Neil Gaiman (esp. Sandman)

My .02c:

The Invisibles by Grant Morrison.

Morrison's version of Doom Patrol is pretty good and interesting take on the superhero-genre as well.

(I hate to link to Amazon instead of Wikipedia, but the pages over there usually contain spoilers etc.)
posted by phax at 11:25 AM on July 1, 2008


The Grant Morrison run of Doom Patrol.
posted by tomboko at 11:26 AM on July 1, 2008


100 Bullets for your noir crime comic needs. It's basic premise seems almost silly, but it's easily one of the best, along with many of the above suggestions.
posted by nushustu at 11:27 AM on July 1, 2008


Dang, phax, you beat me to it! In that case, there's also Morrison's run of Animal Man.
posted by tomboko at 11:27 AM on July 1, 2008


If you like it gritty, and superheroic:

- Bratpack, by Rick Veitch
- Marshall Law: Fear and Loathing, by Mills and O'Neill
- the several TPBs of Doom Patrol, by Grant Morrison (though the grittiness is just a byproduct of the completely bonkers plot)
- Rising Stars, by Straczynski
- Wanted, by Millar
- Invincible, by Kirkman.
posted by Iosephus at 11:28 AM on July 1, 2008


Watchmen. If you haven't read it. You'll kick yourself for not reading it sooner once you do read it.
posted by piedmont at 11:29 AM on July 1, 2008


+100 bullets, +Y the last man (great great), +Sandman, +Watchmen, Sin City, The Walking Dead, Preacher. That'll keep you busy.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 11:30 AM on July 1, 2008


Yes, Chris Nolan's Batman is Frank Miller's Batman. Go for Miller's Batman stuff.

thirding Watchmen..

I'd add Sandman which is fantastic (as in fantasy, as well as in quality) without having much to do with Super heroes.

I too have been reading Civil War via trade paperbacks, and it is an okay read.. but really pales in comparison to these others, plus the story has been going to weird little corners of the Marvel universe that have so much unprovided backstory I have to keep looking up characters on wikipedia to figure out what in the world they are talking about. I did enjoy seeing what a dick Iron Man can be.

and on preview, I see I was beat to recommending Y the last man and Preacher. I'd also throw Fable on that list. I haven't read Fable yet, but it's on my todo.
posted by jrishel at 11:31 AM on July 1, 2008


And Planetary, by Ellis. I deserve a flying kick for forgetting that one, shesh.
posted by Iosephus at 11:36 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree with everyone who's suggested things by Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison. I'd also like to add Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing, Peter Milligan's Enigma, and pretty much anything Hellblazer as long as it's not related to the movie. Also, Hellboy and its spin-off, B.P.R.D., as well as Grant Morrison's one-off graphic novels WE3, Seaguy, and Vimanarama. Everything I've mentioned is available in trade paperback format. I'd also add one thing that isn't: Peter Milligan's version of Shade the Changing Man. There's one trade paperback edition, but you'll have to hunt down individual issues for the rest. It's worth it.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:38 AM on July 1, 2008


Watchmen is pretty good, too. I'm surprised no one's mentioned it!
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:39 AM on July 1, 2008


I'll chime in and hit some low hanging fruit here. If you're going to go the Batman route check out Hush and Arkham Asylum once you have a sense of the characters and history.

V for Vendetta isn't a superhero comic, but if you like Watchmen or the movie version I'd strongly recommend it. Also, I would NOT recommend Wanted, which someone did, since it tries to do for villains what Watchmen did for superheros, but despite a good opening act it fails by being juvenile and shallow.

Finally, a personal suggestion. If you're curious about Japanese manga at all and want to try out some of the more gritty intellectual stuff, I'd say go for Ghost in the Shell which is pretty hard cyberpunk, or else Battle Angel Alita which is post apocalyptic sci-fi and an absolute romp and a half.
posted by CheshireCat at 11:44 AM on July 1, 2008


I really, really loved Gotham Central, by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker. It's a gritty little portrayal of the Gotham Police Department, and it is an extraordinary addition to the Batman universe.

The artwork is loose, scratchy, and heavy on the blacks, so the overall feel is that of a decaying film noir. The characters are complex human beings (no one seems to be entirely pro- or anti-Batman, though the presence of an effective, ridiculously-costumed vigilante hangs over everything the police do), and the cases are interesting tales with lots of twists and turns rather than straight-up superhero wish-fulfillment fantasies (it's never "Oh no, it's the Mad Hatter! Let's fight him!" -- it's more like, "Okay, we've got the Mad Hatter in custody, we think he might be the perp, now what?"). Basically, it's like a comic-book version of Law and Order, if episodes of Law and Order also periodically contained The Joker.

You can pick them up in the collected trade paperbacks, so start with Volume One.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:45 AM on July 1, 2008


B.R.P.D.

Roger ftw!

awwww Roger...
posted by BobbyDigital at 11:49 AM on July 1, 2008


Yes, obviously Watchmen as so many others have said.

For gritty, I strongly second Mark Millar's Wanted. Also Matt Wagner et al's Hunter Rose Grendel, though Wanted is much more cohesive.

If you like feudal Japan (hell, even if you don't know whether or not you do), I highly recommend Lone Wolf & Cub. Be warned, though, there are 28 volumes to the series. I will somewhat sheepishly admit that I have yet to finish it, though it's quite good.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:49 AM on July 1, 2008


Battle Angel Alita...is post apocalyptic sci-fi and an absolute romp and a half.

God, yeah it is. Or, if you'd rather go with something more decidedly historical in mood for your first foray into manga, Lone Wolf and Cub is an amazing samurai revenge story that I can't recommend highly enough. It's also got a couple of spin-offs done by the same people, Samurai Executioner and Path of the Assassin. (That last one is about a ninja, and everyone loves ninjas, right?)
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:51 AM on July 1, 2008


I haven't read comics in quite a long time, but I can offer some things that are still available in trade paperback:

1. Crisis on Infinite Earths (the original from the mid-80s)
2. Watchmen (as everyone has suggested)
3. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
4. Batman - The Killing Joke
5. The Dark Knight Returns
6. Kingdom Come
7. Marvels

Hope this helps...
posted by tcv at 11:56 AM on July 1, 2008


Just finished reading "The Astonishing X-Men" run with Joss Whedon as a writer. Insanely good.
posted by Spyder's Game at 12:12 PM on July 1, 2008


If you like the gritty versions of Batman, you may want to check out some of the recent Daredevil trades too.

Also, since everyone has everything but Marvel covered already, I'll toss in a suggestion for any of the New Avengers books or Ultimate Spidey. All of Garth Ennis' Punisher issues have been pretty high quality also, and very high on the "grit" factor.

All the ultimate lines are great for anyone new to comics.
posted by highfidelity at 12:17 PM on July 1, 2008


There are some great suggestions here. I would add that Grant Morrison's JLA run is the most fun I've ever had reading DC Superhero books. The first four issues are exciting and funny and really pushing the characters. Great stuff.
posted by aburd at 12:23 PM on July 1, 2008


I love most of the comics upthread. I also really enjoy Fables, which is about fairy tale characters makin' it in new york after a dark adversary chased them from their homelands. It sounds cheesy, but manages to do great stuff within that framework in my opinion.
posted by thedaniel at 12:31 PM on July 1, 2008


Grant Morrison's New X-Men
issues #114-#154

If you're enjoying the X-Men, then you'll probably dig Grant Morrison's run on the book. He takes everything that's rad about the X-Men and cranks it up to eleven. Mutant science, sociology and politics are addressed in new, mind-bending ways. The dialog is wonderful and there's just enough soap opera between the battles and the gonzo genetics. There's a series of artists, including the absurdly talented Frank Quitely and Chris Bachalo. All forty issues tell one big yarn, and I feel terrible for the poor chump who had to follow it up when Morrison was done.

Brian Michael Bendis's Daredevil
issues #26-#81

If you're enjoying Marvel, then sooner or later you're gonna need to check out Daredevil. At their best, Daredevil comics combine courtroom drama, interpersonal struggle, hard-boiled crime stories and superheroics with buckets full of ninjas. Bendis' run has plenty of all of it, and does some pretty ballsy stuff with the character. Years before Marvel revealed Spider-Man's secret identity then copped out of it, this Daredevil run was already addressing what a superhero getting outed would look like. Feel free to skip the David Mack fill-in issues.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:49 PM on July 1, 2008


Oh, and you'd probably dig Marvels by Alex Ross & Kurt Busiek because it's a beautifully painted, excellent story that also serves as a decent primer for the Marvel mythos.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:52 PM on July 1, 2008


N^th Sandman. An absolute must. Must must must must must. Read it.

Another must is The Fountain. From what I recall, the movie and the graphic novel were produced sort of independently. Neither is really an adaptation of the other. They are both different products from the same idea. And they both turned out great.

The Dark Tower series seems popular, though I didn't like it enough after 3 issues to keep reading it. Vol 1 came out recently.

N^th Y The Last Man.

Maus is a great graphic memoir of a Jew during WWII. Persepolis is another great graphic memoir, and recent movie adaptation, about an Iranian girl growing up in Iran during the revolution, and then in Austria, and then back in Iran.

FLOOD! is a neat graphic novel (as in completely graphic, no words, except the occasional street sign maybe).

I really enjoyed Stagger Lee. It's sort of an expanded version of the folk myth and songs, and also based on what little historical account there is of the actual events. It's about 10% "historical" and 80% fiction.

If it matters, I was in your position a year ago, and still am discovering what stuff I like and don't like. And Like I said, The Sandman and The Fountain are absolute musts.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 1:01 PM on July 1, 2008


Astro City by Kurt Busiek. There are multiple volumes out in trade, my favorite being the noir Tarnished Angel. Astro City was really good for me when I was first getting into comics a few years back. Many of the characters are distilled from the same stuff as classic Marvel or DC figures, but many more of the stories focus on the every day people who live in a world of superheroes.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:08 PM on July 1, 2008


Other recommendations: Final Frontier, which highlights DC's Silver Age. They had an animated movie come out recently, which was pretty good.

Heck, all the DC Animated Universe (Batman: The Animated Series; Superman: The Animated Series; Justice League; Batman Beyond; NOT Fox's 'The Batman') is pretty good. You can pick up most the DVDs pretty cheap in used video stores. Again, this stuff really helped me get an overview of Who's Who when I was getting into comics. At the very least get the Justice League series for the Cadmus storyline.

On the other hand, most of the Marvel animated shows I've seen so far have been pretty mediocre. The new Spider-man is okay, I guess.

On the Marvel book side of things, the Ultimate Universe stuff is the best of the lot, but they are starting to fold under the weight of being best sellers. Pick up the Immortal Iron Fist trades as they come out. Bendis' Alias is pretty good too.

If you don't want to read your Showcase and Essential volumes in black and white, you can find CD-ROMs that have years worth of the comics in color, but you have to read via a monitor. There are also archival editions which are in full color, but are wickedly expensive.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:21 PM on July 1, 2008


There are a lot of recommendations for hard-core good stuff here, a lot of which is more "graphic novel" and less "comic book", but I won't discount any of it.

Have you read Astonishing X-Men yet? That's a pretty good one scribed by MeFi fave Joss Whedon.

You might want to read up on the Silver Surfer. He was pretty cool back in the day, but seems to have fallen out of favor lately. Somebody mentioned Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, which I am also partial to.

Try the Frank Miller and Kevin Smith Daredevil comics are cool.

There are ton of old Image comics that you might want to try out too: Spawn, WildC.A.T.s, Youngblood and Savage Dragon.

I'm so excited for you. Have fun!
posted by jabberjaw at 1:32 PM on July 1, 2008


Wow, thanks to everyone for all of your input - let's just say my Amazon wishlist has aggressively grown in the past three hours! If anyone stumbles across and sees anything I'm missing, continue to add, but thanks again everyone for these suggestions!

FWIW, the first four that I'll tackle from above are:

-Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
-Watchmen
-Y: The Last Man
-100 Bullets
posted by po822000 at 1:32 PM on July 1, 2008


A little bit of a warning on Watchmen: It's partially a commentary on comic books and is a product of its time, so I'd definitely recommend it, but maybe after you've gained a bit more exposure to comics.
posted by explosion at 1:45 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have to throw in my 2-cents here and suggest something out of left field. Lady Snowblood, especially if you like Lone Wolf and Cub.

I never got into regular comic books but when manga came on the scene years ago I got into some of them, for some reason, although most of what I read is for girls.
posted by fiercekitten at 4:57 PM on July 1, 2008


Recent stuff I'd recommend:
  • Most things by Warren Ellis (although I tend to pick up anything Ellis I happen to see, nothing's beaten Transmetropolitan for me yet; the space stuff is alright, but I'm not a fan of Gravel.).
  • Almost anything by Brian Michael Bendis: Powers, Jinx, Goldfish, Sam & Twitch - a Spawn spin-off, and most especially Torso.
  • The first two compilations of 100 Bullets (just read the third one and it came off kind of cartoony and clicheed, but hopefully it gets better again).
  • Last, but definitely not least, The Boys, one of the more exceptional series I've read lately. Garth Ennis (Preacher)/Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan - Transmet wouldn't be Transmet without that complicated art..which gets me thinking of that short-lived Image series Trencher - anyone remember that?).

posted by jenh at 6:30 PM on July 1, 2008


how has nobody recommended Ronin?
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:42 PM on July 1, 2008


Well, I've got $75 in gift certificates for Barnes & Noble. Guess I know where they're gonna go.
posted by codswallop at 9:22 PM on July 1, 2008


A little bit of a warning on Watchmen: It's partially a commentary on comic books and is a product of its time, so I'd definitely recommend it, but maybe after you've gained a bit more exposure to comics.

You know, I would think this too, but every non-comic-geek I know who's read Watchmen has loved it, so I think there's enough basic character-driven storyline there to really enjoy it without getting all the Golden/Silver Age references.

And speaking of Watchmen: it's a really excellent look at superheroes struggling with their humanity in the face of godlike powers and responsibilities. For a fun flipside to that, you might also look into Miracleman, also written by Alan Moore at around the same period of his career; the main character of Miracleman is basically a god who, over the course of the series, slowly eases into his divinity and leaves his human life behind, coming up with all the Answers that Watchmen denies the reader.

I think a large part of why people dig Watchmen is because it asks big questions about what makes human society better, and refuses to answer those questions explicitly, so its characters have the same kind of destructive power and moral uncertainty that the US does in the nuclear age. By contrast, Miracleman is essentially Alan Moore going balls-to-the-wall with his own ideological framework, eventually telling the reader exactly how a perfect post-superhuman society should work. It's thrilling in a kind of charmingly fascistic way.

The downside to recommending Miracleman is that, due to a profoundly fucked-up legal situation about who owns the rights to the character, it's no longer in print and likely won't be for the foreseeable future. But if you end up loving Alan Moore's writing about superheroes and want to read Miracleman as a follow-up to Watchmen, you can either buy the back issues on eBay or something (legal but expensive) or find a digital Torrent file of all the issues (free but illegal).
posted by Greg Nog at 10:52 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to circle back around and say that I've since read Y:The Last Man, both Batman books and Watchmen and were floored by each and every one. Thank you so much for the suggestions!
posted by po822000 at 7:24 AM on October 28, 2008


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